Meet The Ruane Family

The Ruane FamilyHow many years have you been part of the MPA community?
Just this one!

What do you love about MPA?
We love how well the faculty and staff have truly gotten to know our children in just a few short months. The small class size has been a wonderful fit for all of our children. Both of our kids in the Lower School feel seen, known, and loved in their classrooms. Their teachers have been able to design goals and opportunities around their specific needs. Our Middle Schooler has been given the opportunity to explore a plethora of new opportunities this year, which has been wonderful. Overall, we just feel like our kids are in very good hands when we drop them off everyday!

What initially attracted you to MPA? 
We love that MPA encourages our children to develop and explore multiple interests simultaneously. The strong triad of an education rich in academics, arts, and athletics really drew us towards MPA. Read More


Meet The Gruen Family

The Gruen FamilyThe Gruen Family lives in White Bear Lake, MN. Christine Gruen was an MPA student for four years, and this is her first year as an MPA parent! Max is in tenth grade and Samantha is in eighth.

What do you love about MPA?
I love that the teachers take the time to get to know students and genuinely care about their success and well being. I love that my children feel comfortable approaching their teachers if they ever need help or guidance. I love that MPA is a small family-type community. I love that my children are experiencing amazing learning opportunities that can be used in everyday life. I love seeing my children happy!!

What initially attracted you to MPA?
We had recently relocated to MPA from California. I was attracted to the warm welcome we received by both faculty and students, and the sense of acceptance my children received as transfer students.

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
My children are inspired by their teachers to become the best versions of themselves, whatever that may be. They are always encouraged and challenged. Read More


Meet The Oliver Family

The Oliver familyThe Oliver Family lives in St. Paul, MN. They joined our community in 2021–Kellen is in third grade and Cameron is in fifth grade.

What do you love about MPA?
We love the community. As a new family, it was important to us to find a school that offered and encouraged a sense of “welcome.” We found this through the enrollment process, when we met “buddies,” met online with several teachers and administrators, and then when school began where (possibly most significantly) we have found that students and teachers say “hello” and smile beneath their masks at drop-off, pick-up, in the halls and on the playground. We have really enjoyed this sense that everyone has a place at MPA and everyone gets seen at MPA.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
In our recent school search brought about by our family’s move from Los Angeles, CA, we were attracted to MPA’s small size and with that, a greater chance for our children to have individualized attention–both academic and emotional. We were inspired by MPA’s commitment to encourage and teach children to be independent thinkers and to honor, respect, and contribute to our diverse community and world. We also appreciate the emphasis on collaboration.

How are your children encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
We are new to MPA, so still assessing how the school’s “Dream Big, Do Right” is implemented on a daily or yearly and individual basis. However, already, our young boys have been given choices that guide their learning, from language to music to reading and science projects. This opportunity has encouraged them to take responsibility for their development to some degree and to look inside themselves as well as in their community of students and teachers for answers. We look forward to more of these chances to ask big questions, explore what excites us, and seek new knowledge during our years at MPA. Read More


Meet The Cook Family

The Cook FamilyParent Rebekah Cook and her family live in St. Paul, MN, and have a second grader at MPA.

What do you love about MPA?
I love the communication from faculty and staff. I always feel like I know what to expect and when things are happening, which gives me a sense of agency and allows me to be an active participant in my child’s education.

What initially attracted you to MPA?
My good friend, Summer, works at MPA. She would share about what she was teaching and the discussions she would have with her students, and I was like, “I WANT THAT FOR FRANKIE. How do I get that?!” Also, we visited several different schools and at no other school did kids have such confidence. We were strangers walking down the hallway, and kids would say, “Hi!” Or when visiting their classroom, a teacher would ask them a question and they would all be so eager to respond and share–so eloquent and confident. That’s all we wanted for Frankie–to feel confident and safe to be herself!

How is your child encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
Frankie is curious, empathetic, highly opinionated, and has some natural leadership abilities, but it can sometimes come across at “bossy.” One of Frankie’s goals from her first grade teacher was to not get distracted by others in the room and to put all of her focus on her own work so she could feel challenged and proud. I LOVED this! Her teacher didn’t discourage her to be different or to simulate, but to identify her weaknesses and strengths and channel all of that to make her the best she can be! Read More


Meet Dr. Sirid Kellermann ’88

The Kellermann FamilyDr. Kellermann, class of 1988, is experiencing MPA again as parent to ninth grader Aixa Kellerman!

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally? How did you get there? Where did you attend college? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

After graduating from MPA in 1988, I went to the University of Minnesota for a B.S. in cell biology and a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular immunology. Then I had the option to take a job in either Connecticut or Palo Alto, California. The job interviews were both in early December – it wasn’t hard to decide which position to accept! I spent 14 years in the Bay Area at R&D and marketing positions at various drug discovery companies. I also got an MBA in sustainable business management along the way. The Bay Area is a great place to live if you have no kids and you were one of the first 30 employees at Google or Facebook and you don’t mind sitting in traffic on the 101. As none of these applied to me, I found it made sense to return to Minnesota where I ultimately started my own consulting business in 2012. Read More


Meet the Soma Family

The Soma FamilyThe Soma Family lives in North Oaks, MN, and have a first grade daughter.

What do you love about MPA?

We love that character education is as much a part of the curriculum as traditional learning, from PreK through Grade 12. MPA has a clear mission and seems to base all of its decisions on that mission. The academics are top notch but learning feels effortless because my child is having so much fun and feels supported in the classroom.

What initially attracted you to MPA? Do your same needs/desires hold true today?

We were attracted by how friendly and welcoming the MPA community is. From the first day we interviewed, it felt like home. I have always had the feeling that if I had a problem or concern, I could express that freely and that it would be openly received. Read More


Meet Assistant Director of Admission for Lower School Robyn Hare

Robyn HeadshotHow long have you been at MPA?
I have been at MPA for 10 months.

What do you love about MPA?
I love seeing how my son Charlie’s perspective on school has changed. To say it has been transformational would not be an exaggeration. He loves coming to MPA every single day!

How does MPA inspire students who dream big and do right?
I think there are so many ways that we do this. My son comes home and wants to research interesting topics he learned in school. He’s so curious and interested in everything, whether it is learning new ball handling skills in PE, humming new songs he’s learning in music, or researching more about science topics he has been introduced to. It’s so fun to see his eyes opened to all the possibilities ahead of him! Read More


Meet Director of Admission and Communication Natalie Waters Seum

Natalie Head Shot

Favorite teacher to strike up a conversation with walking down the hallway?
Ms. Peterson, kindergarten teacher, because she always has a creative project underway, often with a social justice or service focus. And her energy is contagious!

How long have you been at MPA?
I have been an MPA parent in the Class of 2023 for 11 years and on staff for almost five. My history here extends even further back as my mother-in-law was a faculty member and Upper School administrator for many years prior. I’ve known and loved MPA for nearly 25 years.

If you have worked at another school, how has your experience at MPA been different?
During and after college, I worked at an educational cooperative that served both students who were struggling and students who were excelling. The faculty there were particularly adept at hands-on, experiential learning, especially service-learning, similar to MPA. It was there where my passion for serving children and families was born. I could see that even from the administrative office, my work could have a direct impact on students, families, and teachers. If I couldn’t be a teacher (we were already putting my husband through graduate school), this was the next best thing. From there, I went on to the consulting world serving education-related nonprofits, so that I could be home more with my son. I had my eye on the director of communications position at MPA and when the call came from Dr. Hudson, the timing was perfect. In the fall of 2019, I added admission to my scope. There’s nowhere else I’d rather spend my life, both as an administrator and as a parent.

Favorite space on campus?
It is hard to choose just one, but I’d have to say the Benz Courtyard because I love seeing Upper School students enjoying recess. Read More


Meet the Short Herring Family

Harper and Carter Short in the science roomDr. Courtney Herring, pediatrician and member of MPA’s COVID-19 Community Advisory Group, and her children, Carter (grade 6) and Harper (grade 5) share how their experience is going so far this fall at MPA.

How is MPA making sure you’re safe at school?

Harper: MPA has been and always will be my favorite school. They have spent a lot of time on making sure everyone is six feet apart, wearing a mask, and sanitizing their hands. MPA has kept me educated and safe.

How is MPA incorporating the important tasks of building community and maintaining joy while still ensuring the safety of all constituents?

Dr. Herring: The task of re-opening any school during a population health crisis is daunting. The administration and staff at MPA worked tirelessly to build-in safety provisions with logistical planning required to allow our children to return to the classroom. Whereas safety is first, social development and academic delivery should not be demoted to second-level importance. MPA understood these principles and picked up the gauntlet in a way that makes all of us should proud to be part of our “Dream Big. Do Right.” family. By not losing focus, our students have been re-engaged and families supported while relationships continue to be built through in-person and virtual platforms.

Read More


Meet Alumni and Current Parents Victoria Simmonds ’01 and Sam Brown ’94! 

Alumna Victoria Simmonds with her 2 ChildrenOne of the greatest things about MPA approaching its 40th birthday is the number of alumni choosing MPA for their own children. Nate Bander ’09 spoke with two alums, who each brought their families to MPA in the fall of 2020, on why they chose to come home. Meet Victoria Simmonds ’01, and Sam Brown ’94!

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally and how did you get there? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?

Victoria Simmonds ’01: I was immersed in the world of real estate as a child. My mother was a residential broker, and my father was a commercial developer. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a liberal arts degree, I knew pretty quickly that my future career would involve real estate in some form. Fast forward to now and I am an agent with Edina Realty. I am thankful, every day, to have found a career that I love, and I’m honored by each client who trusts me to help them navigate one of the most important transactions of their lives. The relationships that develop along the way are icing on the cake. Read More